1896 - A free public library opened in a room at City Hall through a major gift of $75,000 from Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Harris
1900 - a new library opens at the present site. It was funded by a bequest from Abby Danforth Harris, private contributions and a city bond issue. The building was designed by local architect William Waters.
1967 - An addition is built to accommodate growth in collection, staff and services.
1993 - A major expansion and renovation project adds a U-shaped structure that embraces the original Waters Building. The rotunda and dome in the original building
are restored. This expansion also was funded through a donation, this time from influential Oshkosh businesswoman Alberta Kimball. The donation required a matching bond issue from the City of Oshkosh.
Today’s library - Services & use
- 330,000 items for children, teens and adults
- An annual budget of $3.3 million
- 36,798 people have current library cards
- More than 1 million items were checked out in 2012 - an average of 3,130 items per day open
- 401,000 people visited the library in 2012 - an average of 1,181 each day open
- Staff answered 197,848 reference questions
- 800 community meetings held at OPL
- 71,448 items pulled from OPL’s shelves to fill holds placed by customers in the Winnefox Library System
Technology & digital resources
- Customers downloaded eBooks and audio books from the library web site more than 23,300 times—a 75 percent increase from 2011.
- 32 public computers were used 70,000 times; that means library users logged on an average of 206 times a day.
- Ten additional computers in a Technology Learning Lab allow for public classes and staff training.
- Customers logged in to OPL’s wireless system with laptops, tablets and phones an average of 3,055 times per month.
- OPL’s digital collections include a wide variety of historic and modern photographs, city directories, history books, maps and atlases, that share the story of Oshkosh and Winnebago County via our web site.
Programs & community outreach
- 14,412 people attended 425 library programs, including a 100th birthday celebration for the library lions and an exhibit from Mount Vernon on George Washington.
- More than 3,000 children, teens & adults participated in summer reading programs.
- A collection box was set up on the city’s west side to make it more convenient for library users to return materials. More than 800 items are returned monthly to the box at Evergreen retirement community.
- Materials were delivered to 400 residents at Oshkosh senior living facilities. Another 240 individuals received materials through OPL’s Home Delivery Service.
- Volunteer Roving Readers read to 395 children in 16 local child care centers.